say that the American Dream is not what it once was: wages are low, retirement is not a parachute glide but a plunge, and those chosen to fix such problems labor at undoing one another’s laws. On any given day, a Swedish man—call him Viggo—might be reclining on a sofa underneath a Danish lamp shaped like an artichoke. Icona Pop sings, “We’re just living life, and we never stop,” and that is what Sweden now means to Viggo. The global pull of Scandinavian life, never weak, continues to strengthen.
The most galling measure of Nordic superiority, though, comes from the Danes.
In 2012, Denmark took first place in the United Nations’ inaugural World Happiness Report, having topped similar surveys for decades.
By the numbers, there is very little rotten in the state of Denmark, and its neighbors aren’t far behind.
Bliss of this kind is startling from a group of countries that are frozen half the year, subsist substantially on preserved fish, and charge among the highest tax rates in the modern world.
One can be forgiven for wondering whether there’s something fishy about the so-called Nordic Miracle itself.
Are the Scandinavians really good and prosperous and happy, or do crude measures of goodness, prosperity, and happiness play to their strengths?